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PLoS One. 2007 Sep 19;2(9):e875.

Potential impact of antiretroviral chemoprophylaxis on HIV-1 transmission in resource-limited settings.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.



The potential impact of pre-exposure chemoprophylaxis (PrEP) on heterosexual transmission of HIV-1 infection in resource-limited settings is uncertain.


A deterministic mathematical model was used to simulate the effects of antiretroviral PrEP on an HIV-1 epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa under different scenarios (optimistic, neutral and pessimistic) both with and without sexual disinhibition. Sensitivity analyses were used to evaluate the effect of uncertainty in input parameters on model output and included calculation of partial rank correlations and standardized rank regressions. In the scenario without sexual disinhibition after PrEP initiation, key parameters influencing infections prevented were effectiveness of PrEP (partial rank correlation coefficient (PRCC) = 0.94), PrEP discontinuation rate (PRCC = -0.94), level of coverage (PRCC = 0.92), and time to achieve target coverage (PRCC = -0.82). In the scenario with sexual disinhibition, PrEP effectiveness and the extent of sexual disinhibition had the greatest impact on prevention. An optimistic scenario of PrEP with 90% effectiveness and 75% coverage of the general population predicted a 74% decline in cumulative HIV-1 infections after 10 years, and a 28.8% decline with PrEP targeted to the highest risk groups (16% of the population). Even with a 100% increase in at-risk behavior from sexual disinhibition, a beneficial effect (23.4%-62.7% decrease in infections) was seen with 90% effective PrEP across a broad range of coverage (25%-75%). Similar disinhibition led to a rise in infections with lower effectiveness of PrEP (< or = 50%).


Mathematical modeling supports the potential public health benefit of PrEP. Approximately 2.7 to 3.2 million new HIV-1 infections could be averted in southern sub-Saharan Africa over 10 years by targeting PrEP (having 90% effectiveness) to those at highest behavioral risk and by preventing sexual disinhibition. This benefit could be lost, however, by sexual disinhibition and by high PrEP discontinuation, especially with lower PrEP effectiveness (< or = 50%).

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